Fig. 1: Female of the summer apple sucker
Reference: Julius Kühn-Institut Dossenheim.
Plant diseases caused by bacteria (Phytoplasmas) are of great importance for the agricultural sector. The most important phytoplasmoses in orchards are Apple Proliferation (AP), Pear Decline (PD) and European Stone Fruit Yellows (ESFY). These diseases can have a devastating effect on commercial fruit growing in Europe. In 2001 Apple Proliferation caused crop losses amounting to 25 million euros in Germany alone. The two other diseases also cause great damage. As direct control of plant bacteria is not feasible, the disease vectors must be controlled. Apple Proliferation is transmitted by the summer apple sucker (Cacopsylla picta), Pear Decline is transmitted by three different species of the pear leaf sucker (C. pyri, C. pyricola, C. pyrisuga). The plum sucker (C. pruni) is responsible for the distribution of European Stone Fruit Yellows.
The aim of both projects is the development of new, innovative biotechnological methods for monitoring and control of these vector insects. Our innovative traps will be developed for commercial use, and allow farmers to reduce their reliance on pesticides. Our research focuses on chemical communication between the organisms involved: the fruit trees, the phytoplasmas and vector insects.